Thursday, January 29, 2009

What does a hero look like?

A hero is a big muscular guy who runs into burning buildings, hacks down doors with an ax and makes the big save, right? Sure, that’s a hero for sure but my newest book, Flashover, takes a deeper look. What if the firefighter was a woman? And what if her entire identity/self worth was wrapped up in her high profile job? And what if she was injured in an arson fire and taken off duty for a while?
Since my husband is in the fire service, I am somewhat familiar with the culture. Many little boys (and even a few girls) from the time they are preschoolers, look up to firefighters as larger than life heroes and indeed, they are. I won’t ever forget watching the towers fall on 9/11, knowing that scores of firefighters had just fought their way through the smoke and debris into the building to begin rescue efforts. I kept asking my husband over and over as the structures crumbled and fell. “But they’ll get out won’t they?” He didn’t answer me because he knows the code. Firefighters are first in, last out. They are heroes, without question, willing to lay down their lives for complete strangers.
But not all heroes wear badges and charge in with sirens screaming. Day to day, we are surrounded by them. Regular folks with nobility of spirit. Sometimes it takes real courage to stand quietly beside someone else, with no applause, no adulation from the masses. Sometimes it is the steadfast heart, the resolve to do the right thing even when no one is looking, the decision to love thy neighbor when it’s so very hard to do, that makes a hero out of an ordinary Joe or Jane.
One of the greatest heroes I’ve ever encountered is a woman whose name I don’t even know. She saw my distress, my terror for myself and my unborn child and she left her desk to come and hold my hand. I never knew her name. I don’t think she ever really knew mine. But I won’t forget that day, the gentle squeeze of her hand and her decision to be a hero for me in that moment.
The Bible says, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
What better defines a hero than that?


Margaret Daley said...

Dana, you are so right about hero--they come in different occupations, sizes, etc.

Dana Mentink said...

Amen, sister!